HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Members of the American Legion Post 14 have been working nearly every day of the week on their new building located on Highway 14, just a few miles from downtown Harrisburg. In June of 2011, C.C. Post 14 burned to the ground at the hands of an arsonist. According to police, a 28-year old man set the building on fire, which also damaged a nearby law firm.
Many of the items inside the building were destroyed, but there were a few salvageable things.
"I went back in, got ready and told my wife. She said where you going, I said legion, it's on fire. I left the house and went out there," said Commander George H. Adams, a retired U.S. Navy veteran. "What did I think? Oh my God, there's a bunch of history right there thrown in the pot that we'll never get replaced, because we had pictures of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. (Pictures of) Different members in the different branches of service, all that in there that we'll never get replaced."
Adams served in the Navy from 1969-1971. He was a radio man who repaired equipment on his vessel. He said the 52 members of Post 14 have wanted a new meeting place for more than a year since the fire in downtown Harrisburg.
"Some of them live in Fisher. Some of them live in Weiner. Of course, we can't have all of them here because Weiner don't have an American Legion or Fisher," said Adams.
Adams said he hopes to host a grand opening for the new building sometime in October. He said the Legion is using available funds to purchase building materials. He said most of the work is done by the hands of volunteers. He also hopes to display some of the items in the old building in the new structure.
"We salvaged a few of our bottles that we had accumulated from different countries from the veterans that brought over," said Adams. "They come from France and overseas where our members were, that was history that they donated to the American Legion."
Adams has spent 14 years of his life with Post 14.
"Most all of them were black and white we had a book in there, a history of things. Where people have been, who was there, what they done, so I mean we had a lot of history right there that went out the window," said Adams.
"The buildings can be replaced, but all the history and all the people past that's no long with us, their memorabilia and all of what they had done and everything was posted everywhere, it's more of a history thing," said Frank Stultz, a retired U.S. Army veteran.
Stultz, who has been working each day, said he does it out of respect.
"I come out here every day because I got nothing else to do. I'm kind of worn out in my old body, but I come out, give a little bit of my time, two or three hours here, couple hours there," said Stultz. "We're a family. That's what we are. Everybody that's in the Legion, everybody is a family out here. We all belong to the same organization; therefore, we're all brothers and sisters."
Adams said community volunteers have also helped with time and money. He said he appreciates all the community support.
"We still got a positive attitude. We might be down, but don't count us out because you never count a veteran out until you put him six feet under," said Adams.